Fotographia – Psychodynamic photographic analysis
Psychodynamic facial photographic analysis is about understanding the unconscious observations. Seeing what you don’t know you are seeing. This face appears as a paradox which leaves the observer slightly perturbed. The be perfect presentation highlighted by the darkly coloured lips automatically pulls the attention away from the rest of the face along with the perfectly presented skin and eyes. The conscious is seduced away from the slightly off centred hair and tilted head which leaves the unconscious confused. One sees a completed gestalt that isn’t complete – a disquiet is left in the mind because the unconscious observations don’t see a completed gestalt.
The big eyes compared to the rest of the face automatically elicits in the observer a genetically programmed attractiveness that one finds when observing the face of a young child. The proportions of the nose, mouth, eyes and cheeks also leaves the observer with a sense of attractiveness in their mind. This again leaves the observer with their genetically programmed move towards the attractive. The unconscious responds this way automatically – move towards me. But hidden in that, is a message to stay away. This comes from the doll like appearance. Contact with what is behind the face will be difficult. The unconscious is left with the message – come towards me but stay away leaving the observer perturbed.
Very strong use of the hijab effect coving the left side of the face. This allows the observer’s unconscious to fill in the gaps. The desire to complete the gestalt will allow most to perceive the face as symmetrical adding to its attractiveness as that basic psychological drive is satisfied. The unconscious is left satiated when looking at it. But with the use of light it looks like part of the head is missing and the left eye has been photoshopped out. This could make it a disarming photograph in some ways especially for those who dissociate or depersonalise. The unconscious of such people could be disturbed.
The big eye automatically engenders a positive response in the viewer, being genetically programmed to respond with warmth and affection to this infant like feature. But this also is a paradox as the expressionless face does not engage the viewer instead it looks past or even right through the observer. Not giving a sense of inferiority in the viewer but more so a feeling of meaningless. One can feel like they are “looked right through as though I do not exist”.
A very pretty face is presented but not particularly sexual. The stick figure presentation of the neck and shoulders which women have defined as beautiful but is less attractive to many males, certainly in a sexual way. The perception of beauty and the perception of sexuality are two different things in the male psyche. Some times they go together but more often than not they don’t. Sensuality is more driven by the unconscious needs in the male (person). The lips in this photograph have a sensual quality by are not highlighted with colour or particularly prominent in size relative to the rest of the face. This would have increased the sensuality of the photograph as many people (men) have unresolved unconscious orality issues at least to some degree.
If one sits back and lets the unconscious responses bubble to the surface this photograph touches one with a presentation of softness and a gentle inviting quality. One is struck by the curves which predominate in the face but especially the hair. There are few straight lines or corners in this photograph which give a sharp and hard quality. It is the curvilinear nature of the face and the hair that touches the unconscious perceptions. The lack of sharpness seduces the Free Child to drop its protective defenses and leaves the observer with the feeling of an inviting and attractive face.
The perfect symmetry of the face is offset by the asymmetrical hair and the tilt of the head. This adds to the softness of the overall presentation which leaves the observer yet again less defended. But the symmetry vs asymmetry creates a juxtaposition of disharmony amongst the harmony. Perhaps even a double message is delivered and leaves one with some wariness. Despite this subliminal reticence overall it is a photograph that encourages one to release self from the chains of their defenses providing a sense of relief and makes the photograph appealing to the observer.
If one can release self from the chains of Adult observation and simply feel the observation one is left with a sense of complexity in this photograph that is reflective of an absorbing ambivalence.
The lips and hair demonstrate a feminine lusciousness. The hair, whilst not wild, has an untamed presence. This gives an aura of Free Child engagement. The observer with accessible Free Child will respond to the photograph at a psychological level, those with little Free Child will not be intrigued by it. It will be viewed as just a pretty picture but not engaging.
The hair is not used for a hijab effect leaving a presence of openness about the face. But in the face there is a contradiction to the hair surrounding it. There is a distance and blankness in the face which contradicts the Free Child engagement coming from the hair. It gives the feel of a distant observer with a melancholic quality especially in the eyes. The constricted pupils has an immediate disengaging effect in the unconscious of the observer. One is left with the contradiction, “Come close, but stay away”. A photograph reflecting some complexity.
In psychodynamic photographic analysis one is striving to observe the non obvious. Those aspects of the photograph that our unconscious is not allowing us to see. In this photograph the eyes clearly dominate. As Freud said the eyes are the window to the soul and are one of the key foci of body reading. These eyes say there is something amiss and indicate sense of internal discontent. But the reading of the eyes provides nothing specific instead they cry out for the observer to project onto them.
This makes the photograph appealing to the observer as the unconscious seizes an opportunity to project our own internal discomfort onto it. Our unconscious then feels a sense of relief as we have again purged our own psychic conflicts onto an external object allowing us to be temporarily freed from our own internal suffering.
With the eyes big, relative to the rest of the face, one sees a child like presentation. This automatically awakens a genetically programmed response in the observer to take a parental position in their own psyche. The hair is of interest in that it perfectly envelopes the head and is perfectly black. This produces a picture frame effect around the face which again highlights it. This builds some disquiet in the observer as there is a sense of being seduced into only seeing that part of the photograph. In this photographic analysis one constantly fights against being seduced away from the unconscious observations.
There is no hijab dimension to this photograph unlike the two below. There is no secrecy. A forthright photograph with a “Here I am” quality, illustrating a confidence and strength. It shows the successful reconciliation of the internal conflict between the feminine and masculine archetypes and ends up with a feminine presentation of the strong woman. The face is in perfect symmetry with a perfect balance of left and right. This allows the observer to feel a sense of a completed Gestalt. This makes for a pleasing image as the hunger for the completed Gestalt is satisfied.
Along with the symmetry comes a perfect presentation. Not one line visible on a perfectly manicured face. But this is disturbing as the force which drives the Be Perfect driver is the Free Child desire to be imperfect. The Be Perfect presentation almost seduces the observer to look for imperfections which distracts from the photograph as a visual image. It invites a search for the incomplete Gestalt which in a contradictory way gives this photograph the ‘X’ factor. It is more than just a pretty picture.
The clearly feminine presentation of the face and hair is offset by the hand and fingers which have a masculine tone holding the camera firmly. A very pretty face in the classic model sense. It’s how a pretty face should look. The model type look that always has an inherent flaw, a bland quality. This portrait is saved by the very interesting light and shading on the face that give a depth and spontaneous character to it. The left side of the face and eye almost hidden in shade giving it a hijab dimension of secrecy. One also sees another ingredient hidden behind the obvious in an almost subterranean way. There is a tightness and rigidity in the face and lips which says something is awry. There is disquiet behind the pretty face.
A disheveled look flows from the hair and sits as a juxtaposition to an almost superior look on the face. Further highlighted with the camera being lower than the chin and the eyes looking down. If not a superior look, a look of mild derision, (wtf). The light on the hair and nose allows for a face that is somewhat veiled adding a quality of mystery exaggerated by a silhouette effect with the background and clothes being blacked out. Finally a sensual quality exudes from the lips. As often happens a black and white photograph can communicate things a colour photograph never can.